The architectural glories of Ripon Cathedral were illuminated by seven thousand candles for the ancient feast of Candlemas.
Some 700 people attended the service, along with civic dignitaries from across the region and the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mrs Johanna Ropner, representing Her Majesty the Queen.
A team of staff and volunteers spent a week placing candles across the cathedral’s many alcoves, some of which are 70 feet off the ground, while local school children helped to lay out intricate designs on the cathedral floor.
The feast celebrates the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple; St Luke’s Gospel tells of the encounter with the old man Simeon who had been promised that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. When he saw Jesus at the temple he spoke the words that would become known as the Nunc dimittis: ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation…’ It is said or sung in the cathedral every day during evensong or evening prayer.
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson DL said: “This year we happen to be keeping this great feast on the first day following our departure from the European Union. At a time when we are conscious of our nation reassessing its relationships with other countries, the words of Simeon remind us that Jesus comes as a light to enlighten the whole world and that his purpose is to establish God’s kingdom in all the world – so we pray that as a nation we might continue to be a blessing and a force for good within the global community.”